Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon Series, Book 1)
by Alison Goodman
Release Date: August 31, 2010
2008 Puffin Canada
Softcover Edition; 535 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
5 / 5 Stars
For years, Eon's life has been focused on magical study and sword-work, with one goal: that he be chosen as a Dragoneye, an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon magic; the penalty is death.
When Eona's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a struggle for the Imperial throne. Eona must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.
I have always been fascinated with the martial arts and the unbelievably long training that goes into the discipline. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn centers around a long tradition of martial arts combined with mystical and magical training, training that is deeply ingrained in an old and traditional culture. I found this book to be thoroughly entertaining and fascinating, and was completely engrossed and absorbed from beginning to end. I have always loved dragons and like reading anything to do with them.
Based on a mix of Chinese and Japanese cultures, the Empire of the Celestial Dragons combines the mystical training with regimented daily training, training that has been passed down from generation to generation for many centuries. The goal of this training is to gain the attention of a Celestial Dragon and become one with them, a goal that will bring immense wealth, prestige, and power. Brannon, Eon's Master, had one last chance to secure victory in a royal court rife with intrigue. In a huge gamble, he apprenticed Eon as his last hope to win favour from one of the Celestial Dragons. What nobody knew or understood was that Eon was actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl, knowledge that would have them both horribly killed if ever discovered. The Master even went so far as mamimg Eon, producing in Eon a permament hip injury so as to divert everyone's attention from the fact that he was different from other boys. In a turn of events that would leave both Eon and the Master stunned, they were soon plunged in the middle of deathly court intrigue that would need the skill of many people in order for them to survive.
Although I couldn't help but make comparisons to the Chinese culture, it was more in my knowledge of their martial arts and in their building designs that I found really useful in helping me understand what was happening in this novel. Other than that, Ms. Goodman has created a very imaginative and creative world, where the characters and the culture came to life. As a culture led by a supreme ruler, I found this world fascinating. There was no concept of right or wrong, no concept of fairness or justness, just the concept of living by the whims of a powerful ruler. Class distinctions were very rigid and this is related in the way people could and could not cross boundaries in the royal precinct and how people were killed just for forgetting to kneel down when important personnages went by. You could almost sense the frustration of the people and the feeling of rebelliousness floating just beneath the surface at all times in the novel. I always felt like I was on edge while reading, wondering what was going to happen next.
Eon/Eona was a very complex character whom I admired most of the time. There were moments when I did not think favourably on her actions, but she did what she had to do in the treacherous world in which she was suddenly thrust. The dual role she had to play was difficult and the duplicity and the lies she had to tell caused her many problems in her life. I like how Ms. Goodman did not play down any of the problems she had to endure, such as a developing body or menstruation. I often wondered how easily it would be to fool someone this way; that is, is a culture so entrenched in its beliefs that no one would consider the possibility that someone would cheat in order to achieve their own ends, which is exactly what Eon and his Master did. I also liked Ido, one of the villains, more for the events that occurred at the end of the novel. He had that dark, evil personality, and could have hurt Eon many times, but he didn't and I always wondered why. Now I am extremely curious as to what will happen between him and Eon, and how Ms. Goodman will develop such an interesting personality.
There were some very dark moments in this novel, and I don't think it would be appropriate for a younger reader. The action moved quickly, the characters and alliances were often unexpected, and events that occured were often thrown at the reader, causing sadness and great pain for many of the characters involved. Yet, in the midst of it all, I found it uplifting and hopeful. I can't really explain what I mean, but I ended the novel feeling good, happy with the decisions that Eon made.
I thoroughly enjoyed Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and loved the diversity of the characters. While the ending finished in quite the cliffhanger, I am happy knowing the second book, Eona: The Last Dragoneye, will be released April 2011 and I've since learned there will be a third book in the series, Eona: Return of the Dragoneye.